Teaching Matters

Presentation 2 FR1

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Teaching Matters 2018 | Presentation Details | 2018


Disrupting disciplines: Empowering students and teachers to drive STEAM teacher professional learning design


Abbey MacDonald, School of Education
Kit Wise, School of Creative Art
Neil Holmstrom, School of Creative Art
Natalie Brown, Peter Underwood Centre
Jane Polley, Tasmanian Department of Education


Excellent teaching engages students and encourages them to learn

Presentation Type



Flexible Learning Space 1




This presentation shares preliminary findings from evaluation of a collaborative professional learning initiative; the STEAM Horizons Symposium. Drawing together personnel from across the University, The Peter Underwood Centre and the Tasmanian Department of Education, this collaboration delivered a professional learning event that empowered Tasmanian teachers and students to lead the conversation around how STEAM education initiatives are being imagined and enacted in Tasmania. STEAM can be embraced as an interdisciplinary approach for learning and teaching that champions quality and authentic integration of the Arts with traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines. As an evolving curricular innovation, STEAM is revealing itself as an ambiguous, audacious and contested space for learning and teaching. Although still evolving, theorists and practitioners broadly acknowledge STEAM as a generative space to cultivate creative, literate and ethically astute citizens and workforce for the 21st century.

The Tasmanian context represents one of the most vibrant creative communities in Australia (Lehman & Reiser, 2014) at the same time as having one of the lowest levels of educational attainment (Stratford, et al., 2016). This presentation explores how these contrasting dynamics contribute to what we posit are some of the nation’s most curious and exciting examples of STEAM learning and teaching. STEAM, undefined and open to possibility, creates a platform for education and inquiry that is all at once curious, provocative, disruptive and complex.

Our preliminary findings reveal a need for further collaborative initiatives that embrace design-led disruption to empower and create spaces for STEAM educators across sectors and breadth of career stages to share practice for interdisciplinary curriculum enactment. Arising from a CALE Hothouse project, the STEAM Horizons Symposium offers an example of how UTAS is working with its key education stakeholders to support and achieve the Future Tasmanian Education Workforce Roundtable objectives (Tasmanian DoE, 2018).


Lehman, K. F., and Reiser, D. (2014). The nexus between an art experience and creative tourism: Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art. Mondes du Tourisme, 10(December), 19-32.

Tasmanian Department of Education. (2018).More teachers, quality teaching: Education Workforce Roundtable Declaration (2018), Retrieved from: Education Workforce Roundtable Declaration (PDF)

Stratford, E., Field, M., Grant, O., and Ambrose, K. (2016). Summary of insights of three round-table discussions on educational attainment in Tasmania incorporating the involvement of Honourable Henry De Sio Jr. Hobart: Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment, University of Tasmania. Retrieved from: Summary of insights at three round-table discussions on educational attainment in Tasmania (PDF 491.6 KB)

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